California Florida Illinois New York Texas

Fake birth certificate leads to the arrest of Virginia lawyer


A Virginia woman went so far in trying to create a new identity for herself that she burnt her fingerprints off and created a fake birth certificate.

Ann Marie Miller, now in an Ohio jail, said she wanted a new identity so she could attend law school and gain admission to the state bar; Miller had been disbarred by the commonwealth of Virginia previously. She acquired a Maine birth certificate to obtain Ohio identification which led to her arrest.

Miller was identified by Ohio investigators after they contacted authorities in Maine and Virginia in order to verify her identity. Investigators discovered Miller’s true identity and searched her computer. They found she had performed online research on how to disappear and form a new identity without being caught.

She received a new birth certificate in Maine under the pseudonym Julia Bay Wadsworth from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Miller chose the state of Maine because of the easier process of applying for a delayed birth certificate there.

Charges are pending for Miller in several states including Maine, Ohio, and Colorado. A spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said they are looking into how Miller had received a birth certificate. The spokesperson refused to comment further, stating they would have to look into the matter closer before discussing possible prosecution. Miller is facing tampering charges in Ohio, as well as obstruction of justice. During her time in Ohio, she had obtained both welfare and medical services. Because of this she is facing forgery charges as well.

She is wanted in Colorado for several charges including burglary, criminal mischief, trespassing, felony marijuana cultivation, assault, and tampering.

When law enforcement searched Miller’s computer, they also found she had researched how to obscure fingerprints. She sought a blueprint of how to destroy her fingertips and the healing process afterwards. When caught, she told authorities that she was born in Maine but no information was found. It was discovered her true birth place was in the state of California.

Authorities refused to say how Miller burned her fingertips to make her fingerprints unintelligible. They did say there were chemicals used over a several month period. It was not disclosed if her attempts were successful.

She admitted to concealing her identity because she didn’t want to go to jail and that she wanted a second chance to practice law. Miller thought this entire process was a clever way to reinvent herself.

Miller was disbarred from the Virginia State Bar in 2009 after earning a law degree from the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia. She then began practicing law in the state in 2007. Two years later, the disbarment came about following an inability to refund fees and several mishandlings of bankruptcy cases.

She will first face a hearing in Ohio and then will be tried in Colorado. If authorities decide to press charges, she may be tried in Maine. When asked about Miller’s mental capacity, her court appointed therapist said she was mentally stable.

Wyoming Supreme Court favors media in records case

Scales of JusticeThe Wyoming Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday that circuit courts may not exclude the media and public from hearings.

These hearings determine whether the state has enough evidence to justify charging defendants with sexual assault. It is a win for the media, which had challenged a local circuit judge’s refusal to release information about a local man charged with kidnapping and sexual assault of a girl in 2012. [Read more...]

Arizona ordered to hand over death records

GavelArizona health officials have been ordered to hand over detailed records of incidents where mentally ill patients have died while in state care. It is the second time in less than 10 years a judge has made this decision. [Read more...]

Wisconsin reaches compromise over redacted information in police reports

NewspaperThe Wisconsin Newspaper Association and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities reached a settlement this week recommending police release reports without redacting information.

Agencies in Wisconsin have been blacking out records based on what a judge found was a misinformed interpretation of a federal law meant to protect the privacy of driver’s license records. [Read more...]

City in Louisiana fights mysterious records request

Sealed RecordsSmall town or single city-contained drama is the stuff of American folklore. It fuels plot lines for countless TV shows and movies alike, both past and present, and generally presents a storyline we can all relate to on some level. Right now, Mandeville, Louisiana is experiencing its own brand of local drama, and a public records request some are deeming “burdensome” lies right at the heart of it. [Read more...]

Changes coming to Minnesota expungement law

Background CheckFor anyone with a criminal record, finding housing and a job is often the most challenging part of life after completion of the sentence. However, changes are on the way in Minnesota, and they may ease this burden and help individuals with criminal records work their way back into society. [Read more...]

ACLU sues for full disclosure from NEMLEC

GavelIn Boston, Massachusetts, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) for refusing to provide access to public records. The ACLU wants a judge to order NEMLEC to release information that the organization has chosen to block. [Read more...]

All Aboard Florida plagued by a few who aren’t onboard

Train TracksHave you heard of All Aboard Florida? Unless you’re living in one of the locations where the project is taking place, the phrase might not be familiar. But All Aboard isn’t just a phrase, it’s an initiative that is shaping up to become the first privately owned and operated public railway in the United States.

Owned by Florida East Coast Industries, All Aboard is seeking to create a railway between Miami and Orlando, with two more stops along the way in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. [Read more...]